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Invisible Fences vs. Physical Fences: What’s Best for Your Dog?

Dogs playing in yard

Most dogs love to run around and play off of a leash, and if you’re lucky to have a backyard for your pup to run free in, then he’s definitely a happy camper. Having a large, open space for your dog to explore and romp is a big plus, especially if you have a large breed.

But, what’s the best way to keep your pooch from breaking free of your outdoor space and getting lost? The usual go-to is a fence. Fences can help keep your pup safe, your neighbors appreciative, and give you peace of mind. When choosing a fence, you have several options, first and foremost, physical or invisible. These two choices come with many considerations, though, so it’s vital to know the pros and cons of both before deciding which is the right choice for you and your pup.

Dog laying in yard

What You Need to Know About Invisible Fences

An invisible fence is pretty much exactly what it sounds like -- a fence that you cannot see. Although it is essentially an electric fence, it's a myth that anything coming in or going out of your property will be electrocuted. Invisible fences aren't quite that dramatic. Instead, they consist of three parts: an underground wire, a transmitter, and a collar for your dog.

Pros of Invisible Fences

Less Expensive  Invisible fences are typically less costly than traditional barriers. Even considering professional installation costs, you'll usually pay less since there are limited materials and not as much labor involved.

Less Time-Consuming  When it comes to installing an invisible fence, it basically involves digging a trench and laying wire. These steps take a lot less time than digging post holes, pouring concrete, erecting boards or slats, etc. Plus, there's almost no maintenance to deal with, unlike most traditional fences.

Provide More Flexibility — If the area you want to fence in is overly large, has hills or other unique elements, or you want to create specific patterns with your fencing, then an invisible fence is a great way to do it. These fences work well on virtually all sorts of terrain and can even run across natural features like water or wooded spots. You can also opt to fence off certain places within the larger fenced area to keep your dog away from them. For example, you can position invisible fencing around flower beds or other areas you want to protect from your rowdy pooch.

You Can Enjoy the View — Depending on where you live, you may prefer not to block your view with a fence. Especially if you live in an area with a large, open scenic space. Obviously, since invisible fences are invisible, there is nothing to interfere with your view.

A Better Fit for Escape Artists — If your dog is a natural-born climber, can jump any fence, or loves to dig, then an invisible fence might do a better job of containing your pooch.

No Gates = No Hassles — When you use an invisible fence, there are no gates to handle. No more trying to open and close the gate when your arms are overflowing with grocery bags. Plus, no more forgetting to close the gate and having your dog get out of the yard.

Can Deter Intruders — If someone who's up to no good passes by your yard and sees your dog there in plain sight, the suspect may be more inclined to keep going. After all, he doesn't know your dog can't get to him. Therefore, in this way, invisible fencing can provide some protection from burglars and vandals. However, on the flip side, dog thieves could be bold enough to walk up and snag your pup, so keep this in mind.

Cons of Invisible Fences

You Need to Train Your Dog — For an invisible fence to be effective, you need to train your dog to learn the fence’s perimeter. Usually, fencing companies, like Invisible FenceⓇBrand, will supply you with flags to use as markers and provide assistance with training procedures. You can walk the perimeter with your dog, keeping the flags in place throughout the training period and removing them once your dog has learned where the fence is.

Limited Protection — Invisible fences keep your dog inside your yard, but they won’t keep other dogs and wild animals from coming in and messing with your pooch. Likewise, they won’t prevent overly bold individuals from coming onto your property.

Can Be Stressful for Some Dogs — Although an invisible fence keeps your dog in your yard, it doesn’t provide a visual barrier. Therefore, if your dog gets agitated or has anxiety when he sees other dogs or people, this feature can get frustrating for him.

Power Outages — Since an invisible fence relies on some sort of power source, if a battery dies or there’s a power outage, this compromises the integrity of your fence. However, if this happens, your dog’s initial training might be enough to keep him from breaching the invisible barrier.

Your Dog Might "Ignore" It — If your dog sees something enticing, he may very well ignore the warning signal and shock from the fence and decide to run out of the yard anyway.

Dog inside fenced in yard

What You Need to Know About Physical Fences

You likely are already familiar with traditional fences; they've been around for quite some time. Physical fences go around the perimeter of your yard and typically feature one or more gates for yard access.

You have several options nowadays for this type of fencing, from wood to vinyl to chainlink, iron, composite, and more. Keep your dog in mind when choosing the fence style that's best for you. For example, if you have a large dog that loves to climb, an 8-foot, smooth vinyl fence is the way to go. According to the American Humane Association, 1 in 3 pets gets lost in its lifetime, so having the right kind of fence can help keep your pet from being in that number.

Pros of Physical Fences

Keep Your Dog In and Other Things Out — Unlike invisible fencing, traditional fences also serve to keep people and other dogs and animals from coming into your yard.

Provides Privacy — Depending on what style of fence you choose, most traditional options offer a sense of privacy. You can enjoy your backyard without worrying about being seen.

Less Stressful for Some Dogs — If your pup is the type to get overly anxious when he sees other dogs, people passing by, or cars driving down the street, then a traditional fence can help block these things from your dog's view.

Can Potentially Split the Cost  When you put up a traditional fence, your neighbors reap the benefits as well. They get privacy, and if they have dogs, it also protects their pups. Therefore, most neighbors will likely be willing to split the cost of a fence with you. With an invisible fence, you're not likely to find anyone to chip in toward the payment.

Can Add to Your Curb Appeal — The right fence can add to your home's overall appeal, boosting your house's first impression. Plus, many buyers these days look for a fenced-in yard (with a fence they can see). So, a traditional fence is likely to be more appealing to most buyers, especially in suburban areas.

No Training Required — You don't have to teach your dog how a traditional fence works. The fence creates a physical barrier that simply stops your dog from going any further.

Cons of Physical Fences

More Expensive — Traditional fences are typically more costly since they require more materials and a more involved installation process.

More Time-Consuming — A physical fence requires more routine maintenance, cleaning, and upkeep than an invisible fence. This adds extra time and extra costs to your fencing solution.

Neighborhood Restrictions — Depending on where you live, your neighborhood might impose certain restrictions on the type and style of physical fence you can have. In some cases, the type of fence you need to get might be an expensive option or not a good fit for your dog.

More Chance for Mishaps — If your pup is a Houdini, he can figure out a way to climb or jump over a physical fence or dig underneath it. There’s also an increased risk of your dog getting out of the yard since people can leave gates open.

Overall, the fence you choose to protect your pup needs to be one that fits best with your lifestyle, location, and dog. In some cases, you might find that a combination of both fence styles works well. For example, fencing in your entire yard with a physical fence and using invisible fencing within your yard to block off certain areas.

Whatever you decide, carefully consider all of these pros and cons before making your final choice. When you’re ready for more helpful tips on how to take care of your pets, check out the rest of our blog. From health to finding the perfect pet dish to ways to have fun with your pets, the team at Neater Pets has you covered!

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